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How are Laws Made in Austria?

Draft legislation is submitted to the Nationalrat by deputies of the Nationalrat (in the form of tabled motions), by the Bundesrat or by one third of the members of the Bundesrat, or by the Federal Government (in the form of bills).

Draft legislation formulated by the Federal Government (Government bills) must be adopted unanimously by the cabinet.

The draft legislation is provisionally formulated by the Federal Minister concerned and then sent out for review by the federal states and the statutory representative bodies before being approved by the cabinet.

The Federal Minister concerned may modify the draft legislation to take account of changes suggested during the review procedure, but he is not obliged to make these changes.

Other channels of initiating legislation

Draft legislation submitted by members of the Nationalrat is known as a "motion". It does not have to go through the above review procedure.

Draft legislation may also be submitted in the form of a Popular Motion (Volksbegehren). If a Popular Motion receives 100,000 signatures of members of the national electorate or one sixth of the signatures of the electorate in any three federal states, then this motion must be debated by the Nationalrat.

Electoral commissions are established to carry out and supervise parliamentary and presidential elections and to monitor Volksbegehren. These commissions must include voting members recruited from the political parties contesting the election.

The passage of federal legislation

When the Nationalrat enacts legislation, the President of the Nationalrat must immediately notify the Bundesrat thereof.

When a law has passed the Nationalrat, it may be placed on record and published only on condition that the Bundesrat does not lodge an objection and elucidate its grounds for objection.

If the Nationalrat reiterates its passage of the legislation concerned in the presence of at least half of the deputies, the law may be placed on record and published. The Nationalrat's passage of federal financial laws (budget) need not be conveyed to the Bundesrat because the Nationalrat enjoys financial sovereignty.

Any law enacted by the Nationalrat may be made the subject of a national referendum (Volksabstimmung) before it is placed on record if the Nationalrat so decides or if the majority of the members of the Nationalrat vote in favour of so doing.

Any overall modification of the Federal Constitution must be made the subject of a national referendum.

A Federal President may be dismissed by national referendum before expiration of his term of office. The referendum must be held if the Federal Assembly so desires. If the referendum result produces a majority against dismissing the Federal President, this referendum ranks as the re-election of the Federal President, and the Nationalrat will subsequently be dissolved.

In the national referendum, the absolute majority of valid votes cast counts.

Constitutional laws or constitutional provisions contained in federal laws can be enacted by the Nationalrat only in the presence of at least half of its deputies and with a two-thirds majority of the votes cast.

The Federal President signs federal legislation to authenticate they it has been enacted in conformity with the Federal Constitution. The Federal Chancellor countersigns each law when it is placed on record. After a law is laced on record, the Federal Chancellor publishes it in the Federal Gazette.